Phantasmagoria, 1945

Directed by – Karl Nussbaum | Reviewed by Kamalika Sarkar


Phantasmagoria, 1945 is an experimental documentary on political collage with a runtime of 11 minutes 10 seconds. This movie is directed by Karl Nussbaum in Germany. As the title of the film suggests, phantasmagoria, which signifies a sequence of real or at times imaginary scenes more likely of those we see in our dreams. This movie showcases an after-dinner slideshow of bedtime stories and ghost stories relating to the title of the movie. It was played using magic lanterns and glass slides.


The stories that are shown on the slide show are the ones told by a famous Nazi Propaganda Minister known as Joseph Goebbels to his 6 children. Most of the slides show the clippings of the Goebbels family, portraying mostly the children and their mother. The director has set a warning to the present in this movie through meditation in the past. This movie reminds us of the famous Nazi leader Adolf Hitler from time to time and also shows glimpses of World War 2.


The film opens with eerie background music and sequences of supernatural presence in its portrayal. Almost the entire movie is filmed in black and white with some pinches of color that hold the deviation of present from past. Keeping related to the title of the movie each and every scene is portrayed from the angle of a projector that was used in a slideshow at that time. The light and shadow played an important role in bringing out the suspicious supernatural effect that the director wanted to put in with the audience.



Though the director claims it to be an experimental documentary yet every part of the film is portrayed with perfect skill and endeavor. The relation between political scenario and storytelling to the kids, though based on completely different parameters, yet is very well connected and brought in effect with proper audio and visuals. The fact that such an intense concept is visualized within such a short span of time marks the artistic excellence of the auteur and counts for an appraisal at its best.


“The truth is the greatest enemy of the state” this remarkable statement by the protagonist Joseph Goebbels deserves a worthy mention while reviewing the movie. This single statement depicts a lot about the political scenario of the contemporary world at that time. There are more to unfold while you watch the movie that will keep you stunned. This movie is way beyond imagination in terms of its excellence and intelligence. It delivers an intense message through a simple way of storytelling gesture. The director deserves kudos on account of his skills of delivering and portraying the entire movie in a justified standard with a proper agreement to time, place, and action. Overall, the movie is well organized and reveals the intellectual quality of the director in every aspect. Complete sublimation of horror stories into political horror of the then social scenario is truly appreciable and marks one of the best artworks till date.

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